The equipment endorsement carousel always accelerates this time of year. The hottest commodity that is still unsigned for 2011 is U.S. Open champion and Ryder Cup hero Graeme McDowell. Golfweek has learned McDowell and his current equipment endorser, Callaway Golf, will part ways when his contract expires Dec. 31.
Callaway spokesman Tim Buckman said the company doesn’t comment on contractual negotiations. McDowell’s agent, Conor Ridge, echoed that sentiment: “Terms of his contract with Callaway are confidential, and we don’t discuss such issues with third parties.”
But an industry source familiar with the situation confirmed discussions between the two parties ended without an agreement.
Who else could be coveting McDowell’s services?
Several companies have reason to sign the Northern Irishman after his breakthrough season – if the price is right. Numerous equipment company officials, when interviewed during this week’s PGA Tour Q-School, speculated that Srixon/Cleveland could emerge as a top suitor. Srixon/Cleveland is seeking a marquee tour ambassador, especially because its relationship with endorser Jim Furyk is nearing an end. According to Furyk’s agent, Andrew Witlieb, the 2010 Player of the Year is on the verge of finalizing a deal with TaylorMade. Furthermore, Srixon/Cleveland reportedly has lost tour staff members Tim Clark and Brian Davis to other competitors. A Cleveland representative declined to confirm those reports or rumors of the company’s interest in McDowell.
In the past, several players have used winning a major as a springboard to endorsement riches (see Corey Pavin, Curtis Strange, and David Toms). The results of chasing dollars often have been disastrous. Expect McDowell’s decision to be scrutinized in its aftermath.